A leaflet campaign outlining councils’ and private foster
carers’ legal responsibilities is not “far-reaching” enough,
according to the British Agency for Adoption and Fostering.
The Department of Health launched the campaign this month
following concerns that many local authorities and private foster
carers were failing to adhere to regulations set out in the
Children Act 1989.
Under the act, local authorities must make home visits to the
child, observe the overall standard of care and offer advice where
needed. Private foster carers must notify their local authority six
weeks in advance of a placement and when the child leaves their
But the leaflet highlights the current lack of awareness and
enforcement of regulations by both carers and councils. It says
that half of all private foster carers fail to notify local
authorities about placement arrangements, and that even then
reported placements are considered by councils to be a low
priority, with little time allocated to inspecting them.
Describing private fostering as a “potential minefield”, BAAF
chief executive Felicity Collier said: “We’re very glad that
attention has been drawn to this issue. But it is not far-reaching
enough and we are not convinced that there will be any more
elements to the campaign.”
She called for the implementation of measures outlined in the
1998 Utting report, which recommended it become a criminal offence
to look after a child for more than 28 days without informing the
local authority. The government rejected his proposals.
The leaflet, which will be distributed nationally, urges
education, health and social care sector professionals to be more
aware of private fostering and to be more proactive in identifying
local councils of private fostering arrangements. Around 10,000
children, many of whom are aged under five, are in private